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You come at the king, you best not miss. these words were immortalised in the hit hbo series the wire, but the expression comes to mind as dd recalls the plight of hedge fund manager dan kamensky.
The founder of distressed debt hedge fund marble ridge capital, in midsummer, tried to exert inappropriate influence over jefferies in the bankruptcy of neiman marcus as the two jostled to buy up settlement proceeds in the case.
Kamensky ended up getting arrested by the feds in early september.
To some, it felt like a bad actor on wall street was finally getting the comeuppance he deserved. kamensky himself admitted to making a grave mistake when he tried to influence a rival bidder. (he has not been charged with any crime and has not commented publicly on prosecutors allegations of wrongdoing).
In a newly published ft feature, dds sujeet indap and mark vandevelde dig deeper into the neiman marcus brawl to understand kamenskys downfall.
Ironically, it starts with an improbable victory. marble ridge believed that as a creditor of neiman it had been cheated in a 2019 debt restructuring. and its nemeses were not just neimans owners, but also private equity group ares management and canadian fund pension cppib.
Plus, kamensky (pictured below) took on a powerful machinery investment banks, law firms, independent directors that he believed had become the handmaidens of private equity groups playing rough with creditors. the kings of wall street, if you will.
These titanic battles have been raging now for years as loose debt documents and clever structuring have emboldened financial sponsor groups to avoid ever ceding control of portfolio companies. hedge funds have tried to paint themselves as victims of diabolical private equity firms.
Ultimately, kamenskys efforts first led to the public humiliation of a neiman marcus director in court and then eventually a $172m settlement for unsecured creditors like marble ridge.
Investigations that deemed at least viable claims of fraudulent transfers then cast into question the work of neimans powerhouse advisers at investment bank lazard and law firm kirkland & ellis.
Within hours of the settlement being struck in late july, kamenskys admitted mis-steps cost him the chance to savour such a rare triumph.
For the likes of ares and its advisers, it fortuitously took the glare off of their own actions.
And for the rest of us, the saga was a reminder that on wall street, morality is very much a relative principle. oh, indeed.
For americas mom-and-pop business owners, a glimpse of walmarts blue and yellow marquee rising from the dirt of their small town feels like spotting the grim reaper.
Save money. live better, the shining storefront promises.
Everyone, with the exception of the superstores local competitors, will happily oblige.
And walmarts domination doesnt stop at the 5,000 mega-outposts dotted across americas rural and suburban landscapes.
The company is revving up to take on amazon prime with its walmart+ subscription service, and prioritising ecommerce via investments in chinas , indias flipkart, and potentially even tiktok global (which includes the apps us business but as dd readers know, the latter is an ever-evolving story).
Across the pond, however, the megastore has failed to leave the same formidable impression.
Strict uk planning laws stifled walmarts plans to expand asda with the same voracity it did stateside.
Meanwhile, german discounters aldi and lidl have moved in on asdas territory, bringing its share of the uk grocery market down to 14.5 per cent from nearly 18 per cent in 2013.
Over two decades later, the arkansas retail beasts price-undercutting methods have still failed to trump tesco as it continues to jostle sainsburys for second place.
Asda missed the mark on producing a rival to convenience-style outposts such as tesco express and sainsburys local, analysts said, as the rise of online shopping hindered its non-food business. and the jetlag travels both ways sainsburys and tesco both pulled out of the us, while aldi and lidl are finding life tough there.
As it turns out, second-best wasnt sitting too well with americas largest retailer.
The us superstore agreed to sell a majority stake in asda to private equity group tdr capital and brothers zuber and mohsin issa (pictured below from left to right) who run the petrol stations business eg group.
The sale values the uk grocer at 6.8bn, only slightly more than the 6.7bn walmart paid for asda two decades ago.
The billionaire brothers, and tdr, will hold equal stakes in the uks third-largest supermarket, with walmart holding on to a minority shareholding. the size of these holdings, and how much each party paid for them, remain a mystery (get in touch with us if you have details).
Last week dd chronicled the issa brothers eyebrow-raising debt profile in short, some credit investors fear the brothers 8.2bn-in-debt groups style of fast-paced, highly leveraged dealmaking may not be the best match.
But as walmart charts its american dream elsewhere, the issa brothers and tdr have a chance to rewrite the us-born growth strategy that asda has struggled to translate in the uk.
Dov seidman (pictured below) is a bestselling author on business ethics who, according to one reporter at fortune magazine, resembles a younger, less pumped-up but equally relentless version of arnold schwarzenegger.
He founded his business ethics consultancy lrn when he was barely 30, aiming to profit from a powerful vision that the world would be a better place if more people did the right thing.
It succeeded handsomely, signing up clients that have included altria, the maker of marlboro cigarettes. seidman received $128m when he sold lrn to a private equity firm in 2018.
But now seidmans moral credentials are under attack. former lrn shareholders have sued, alleging that seidman coerced them into selling their shares at a far lower price a year earlier. (seidmans lawyers call it sellers remorse and insist he did nothing wrong.)
Its a delicious story, with cameo appearances from new york times columnist thomas friedman, the entrepreneur behind the video game call of duty, and, perhaps most improbably, an ad campaign for chobani yoghurt.
Dds mark vandevelde and sujeet indap have the details.
Dropping the ball ey had a crucial chance to thwart wirecards infamous fraud. heres the jaw-dropping inside story of how the auditor missed an opportunity to catch suspicious activity inside the german payments group. (ft)
Beyond the glass ceiling the appointment of incoming citigroup boss jane fraser delivered a much-needed shake-up to wall streets gender norms. ironically, her greatest challenge will be to restore the us banks status quo following some regulatory hiccups. (ft)
Friends in high places with a little help from his deep-pocketed inner circle and ties to the chinese communist party, evergrandes billionaire founder hui ka yan avoided a debt default that would have rocked china and its financial system. (bloomberg)
Bristol-myers squibb to buy heart treatment maker for $13.1bn (ft + lex)
Frances engie sells 3.4bn stake in suez (ft)
Hps raises $9bn as investors race into direct lending (ft)
Alibaba to take up to 10% of dufry (ft + lex)
Frances engie sells 3.4bn stake in suez (ft)
Nexi to buy sia in stock deal to create european payment giant (bbg)
Deutsche brse pushes for dax overhaul after wirecard debacle (ft)
Nec acquires switzerlands avaloq for $2.2bn (ft)
Netflix wins reprieve to air bad boy billionaires: india episodes (ft)
Nvidia to build uks most powerful supercomputer (ft)